Justus Reid Weiner
The Christian population of the areas under the control of the
Palestinian Authority (PA) has sharply declined in recent decades, as
tens of thousands have abandoned their holy sites and ancestral
properties to live abroad. Those who remain comprise a beleaguered and
dwindling minority. In sharp contrast, Israel's Christian community has
prospered and grown by at least 270 percent since the founding of the
While Israel understands that the construction of the security barrier
inconveniences some of the Christian communities living in its
vicinity, Israel has shown sensitivity to Christian interests in
planning the route of the barrier.
The plight of Christian Arabs remaining in the PA is, in part,
attributable to the adoption of Muslim religious law in the PA
Constitution. Israel, by contrast, safeguards the religious freedom and
holy places of its Christian (and Muslim) citizens. Indeed, in recent
years Israel has been responsible for restoring many of the churches
and monasteries under its jurisdiction.
The growing strength of Islamic fundamentalism within the Palestinian
national movement poses problems for Christians, who fear they will be
deemed opponents of Islam and thereby risk becoming targets for Muslim
extremists. This is …
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Jeremiah 25 : 15-29
15 This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from
my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the
nations to whom I send you drink it. 16 When they drink it, they will
stagger and go mad because of the sword I will send among them.” 17 So
I took the cup from the Lord's hand and made all the nations to whom he
sent me drink it: 18 Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, its kings and
officials, to make them a ruin and an object of horror and scorn and
cursing, as they are today; 19 Pharaoh king of Egypt, his attendants,
his officials and all his people, 20 and all the foreign people there;
all the kings of Uz; all the kings of the Philistines (those of
Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the people left at Ashdod); 21 Edom, Moab
and Ammon; 22 all the kings of Tyre and Sidon; the kings of the
coastlands across the sea; 23 Dedan, Tema, Buz and all who are in
distant places; 24 all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the
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2007 will be the year of war, both in Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip,
and possibly even against Syria. It could happen this spring, or
perhaps in the summer.
According to Military Intelligence's (MI) assessment for the coming
year, there is a high probability that Israel will find itself fighting
at least two wars on two fronts, one against the Hamas army being
created in the Gaza Strip and the other against Hizbullah, working hard
to regain its strength after the war this past summer.
Despite a cease-fire on the Gaza front, Hamas has spent the last week
smuggling weapons into the Strip through the tunnels running from
Hizbullah, despite Security Council Resolution 1701 and UNIFIL's
presence in southern Lebanon, has received shipments of antitank
missiles, short-range rockets and long-range missiles from Syria since
the war ended.
The Syrian military is on high alert and has the IDF concerned that
without political “engagement,” war could erupt there.
According to MI's assessment, if Israel offered Syria a renewal of
dialogue, President Bashar Assad would accept. However, if Israel does
not make any diplomatic overtures toward Syria, in line with Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert's declared policy, the chance of war …
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IDF forces along Israel's northern border were instructed Sunday to
raise their current level of alert out of concern that Hizbullah will
try to organize demonstrations against Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad
Saniora along the border, Israel Radio reported.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz has ordered IDF intelligence to track
events in Lebanon closely.
JPost reports from Lebanon: 'Hizbullah protest is attempted coup'
Meanwhile, at Sunday morning's cabinet meeting, a number of ministers
echoed the warning of former OC intelligence directorate Maj.-Gen.
(res.) Aharon Ze'evi Farkash against Israeli interference in the
escalating crisis in Lebanon.
Education Minister Yuli Tamir said that “moderate forces” in the Arab
world should be fostered, but that Israel should not involve itself in
the tension surrounding Saniora's government.
Gil Pensioners Party head Rafi Eitan opined that it was the
responsibility of the United States to shore up Saniora, and that any
move by Israel could have a debilitating effect on the shaky status
quo. “Israel can't do much in Lebanon,” Eitan said.
In an interview to Army Radio earlier Sunday morning, Farkash had
declared that “The resignation of the Lebanese government will increase
the chance of another war next summer.”
Farkash argued that it wasn't worthwhile for …
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By Ora Coren, Haaretz Correspondent
The European Union intends to offer Israel economic benefits in
exchange for relieving the restrictions on the Palestinians, EU sources
A high-ranking EU delegation due to arrive in Israel in about a month
will discuss ways to strengthen the economic, political and cultural
cooperation between Israel and the EU.
The EU's action plan is based on a statement of intentions formulated
by Israel and the EU at the end of 2004.
The Europeans are expected to offer a package deal – advancing the
relations with Israel simultaneously on all fronts. They stress that
they will not allow accelerated progress in economic issues, while the
political process is bogged down.
“The extent of the EU's economic cooperation with Israel will be
equivalent to the extent of Israel's political cooperation with the
EU,” a senior EU source said. “The more we advance on the political
clauses, the easier it will be for us to make progress in the economic
The delegation will be headed by Christian Leffler, the EU's Middle
East and south Mediterranean director. He is expected to ask Israel to
alleviate a series of restrictions on the Palestinians as part of …
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Decisive majority in UN General Assembly approves six pro-Palestinian
resolutions, including calls for Israel to dismantle settlements,
withdraw from territory captured in '67, including E. J'lem, Golan
Heights despite heavy opposition by Israel, US
Associated PressThe General Assembly approved six pro-Palestinian
resolutions over United States and Israeli objections, culminating the
annual United Nations debate aimed at showing the world body's
solidarity with Palestinian demands for an independent homeland.
At the end of three days of speeches, the 192-member world body on
Friday reaffirmed the UN's responsibility regarding the Palestinian
question and stressed the Palestinian peoples' right to
self-determination and an independent state. More from the UN
In Security Council report, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presents
deficiencies in Lebanese government's oversight of its borders. Israel
criticized for violating for overflights into Lebanon, seen as
violation of ceasefire, for not cooperating on cluster bomb issue.
Kidnapped mentioned as 'top priority'
In the key resolution on the “Peaceful Settlement of the Question of
Palestine,” the General Assembly welcomed the Nov. 26 cease-fire in
Gaza and urged both sides to maintain the truce which it said could
pave the way for negotiations towards a solution to the conflict. …
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By Yossi Verter, Haaretz Correspondent
The United States lacks sufficient intelligence on Iran's nuclear
facilities at this time, which prevents it from initiating a military
strike against them, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has told
European politicians and diplomats with whom she has recently met.
Rice mentioned three reasons why the United States is currently unable
to carry out a military operation against Iran: the wish to solve the
crisis through peaceful means; concern that a military strike will be
ineffective – that it would fail to completely destroy Iran's nuclear
capabilities; and the lack of precise intelligence on the targets'
U.S. President George W. Bush and President Jacques Chirac of France
met several weeks ago. Bush told his French counterpart that the
possibility that Israel would carry out a strike against Iran's nuclear
installations should not be ruled out.
Bush also said that if such an attack were to take place, he would
understand it. According to European diplomats who later met with Rice,
the secretary of state did not express the same willingness to show
understanding for a possible Israeli strike against Iran.
Nonetheless, Rice did not discount the possibility that such an
operation may take place. …
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Dozens of Jewish athletes flocked to a Baptist convention center in the
heart of Israel on Friday in hopes of realizing a deeply American
dream: becoming a professional baseball player.
Israel's fledgling pro baseball league held its first tryout for local
ballplayers in this Tel Aviv suburb, putting them through a grueling
battery of sprints, fielding drills and simulated games under an
unseasonably warm November sun.
With the pop of leather mitts and crack of wooden bats filling the air,
the scene resembled a typical ballgame in small-town America. But the
tryout had a decidedly Israeli feel.
Players included Orthodox seminary students, Israeli soldiers and
Mideast peace activists. They freely mixed Hebrew and English baseball
jargon — there apparently is no Hebrew word for “curve ball” — and
some people left early to get home in time for the Jewish sabbath at
Larry Baras, the American businessman spearheading the effort to launch
the league, was ecstatic over the turnout of roughly 70 prospects, far
exceeding initial expectations in the single digits.
“I was sitting back there, just taking it all in,” he said after
getting his first glimpse of the local talent. “It was no different
here than it …
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Prime minister's improper appointments come back to haunt him
What does the public have against the Olmert administration? Why do so
many people feel that this is “the worst cabinet Israel has had in
It's not because of the war. The shortcomings revealed and those yet to
be revealed regarding the military's conduct in Lebanon are not
attributed to the prime minister and are not much different than the
failures prevalent in other military systems. The Olmert-Peretz cabinet
has had particularly low public ratings since its very inception, even
before a single shell was fired on the Lebanese border. It is doubtful
whether any government in the last 12 years has ever set out with such
limited public support, albeit its solid majority in the Knesset.
The first week of fighting in Lebanon actually increased the Olmert
administration's popularity. The winds of war were beneficial, and in
polls conducted at the time, leading ministers received relatively high
marks. However, this was a short-lived peak. The public quickly resumed
its reservations. In the tests of credibility, suitability and
performance, the public awarded its ruling government particularly low
scores. Support for the coalition dropped after Avigdor Lieberman was
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Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is this week hosting a major
international conference on combating desertification, with experts
coming to study Israel's successes in “making the desert bloom.”
The conference, entitled “Deserts and Desertification: Challenges and
Opportunities,” is sponsored by the Blaustein Institute of Desert
Research (BIDR), Ben-Gurion University, the United Nations Convention
to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
With the exception of several field tours into Israel's reclaimed and
existing desert areas, the daily lectures will be taking place on the
S'dei Boker campus of Ben-Gurion University. The conference is focusing
on how to confront and ameliorate factors leading to desertification,
with much emphasis on the Israeli experience and its lessons for other
The approximately 300 attendees hail from 20 countries spread over five
continents. Keynote speakers include: Amb. Hama Arba Diallo, Executive
Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification;
Dr. David A. Mouat, Chairman of the experts group of the UNCCD Desert
Research Institute in Reno, Nevada; Dr. Vandana Shiva, Founder of the
Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in New Delhi,
India; Professor Wangarai Maathai, Deputy Minister of the Environment
of Kenya and a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
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